The Riverhead Farmers Market has by most accounts been a huge success operating out of a vacant former downtown storefront in the winter months.
And now, farmers and sponsors of the market are hoping that the following it generated will follow the market outdoors starting Saturday.
Saturday was the last day the weekly market will run out of the former Swezeys’s Furniture store site, where it’s been held every Saturday since Feb. 1.
Beginning Saturday, May 24, and running through Nov. 1, the farmers market will be held outside, with the vendors located on the grass along the Peconic River in the downtown parking lot, according to Ray Pickersgill, the executive director of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, which runs the market.
“I’m predicting we’re going to have a large turnout” for the outdoor market, Mr. Pickersgill said. “I am advertising it as to biggest farmers market on the East End and I will make it the biggest farmers market. I’m trying to get at least 40 booths if I can.”
Linda Carey of Linda’s Baking Company has been a vendor at the market since mid-March and she’s already got an outside booth, selling her baked goods on the outdoor loading dock of the building.
“We love it here,” she said. “We’ve got a water view.”
She hasn’t committed to the outdoor market yet but said she’s leaning toward it.
“I’m considering it because this has been very successful and we have a nice following of people who come and look for us every week,” Ms. Carey said.
Linda’s Baking Company is one of several Farmers Market vendors who operate out of the Stony Brook Business Incubator in Calverton. Ms. Carey, who lives in Wading River, has been at the incubator since last July, when she started the business.
Steven Price of Brooklyn-based Papa Pasquale Ravioli and Pasta said the farmers market has been “very good” for his business, and he will be following it outdoors next Saturday.
“I don’t even want to be indoors in the winter time,” he said.
Mr. Price, who lives in East Quogue and used to run Dora’s Restaurant in Westhampton, said he heard about the Riverhead market from a friend and has participated in it since the first week.
“We do a lot of markets,” he said. “We do maybe 15 to 20 markets and this one is very good. They are nice.”
“I’d have to say that the Riverhead Farmers Market was one of the best farmers markets that I’ve ever been at and it was really wonderful to experience it in the winter,” said Grace Marie Longinetti of Copia Granola Bars, which makes all-natural, gluten free granola bars with no genetically modified ingredients.
“We’re going to go outdoors next week and will be back in the winter if they have it again,” said Ms. Longinetti, who has been a vendor at the Riverhead market since it started on Feb. 1.
Copia also operates out of the Calverton business incubator, and Ms. Longinetti, who is from Melville, said the winter market gave them a chance to meet new customers from all over the East End.
Mr. Pickersgill said the BID is giving vendors from the indoor market the first option to participate in the outdoor market and asked them to decide by this week. More than 20 have signed up already, he said.
There also are a lot of businesses at the incubator who are interested in participating in the summer market, he said. Some of the vendors who had booths at the market earlier in the year have since gotten their own stores, according to Mr. Pickersgill.
The indoor market had 30 indoor vendors per week and in nice weather, about five outdoors.
With temperatures starting to rise, “There’s no way I want to have it inside in the summer,” Mr. Pickersgill said. The crowds at the market have been steady for the last couple of weeks, but not as crowded as they were in February and March when the market first opened, he said. Still, some of the vendors have said this was the most money they’ve ever made at a farmers market, Mr. Pickersgill said.
In addition to the Saturday outdoor market in the spring and summer, the BID also will continue to have the Thursday farmers market it has held for many years in the parking lot south of the former Sweezy’s building, Mr. Pickersgill said.
While the indoor market was at the end of its run on Saturday, it still had some new fans.
Tom and Erin Romano of Medford said this was their first trip to the Riverhead Farmers Market Saturday.
“I kept meaning to come, but I work on Saturdays,” Tom said. “I like it a lot.”
He had just bought some asparagus and was heading for the locally made root beer.
Here’s the list of vendors for Summer 2014:
Mar-Gene Farms (joining in June)
Invincible Summer Farms (starting May 31)